Fanatics, the company responsible for manufacturing the official uniforms for Major League Baseball said this week that they would be switching production from jerseys to creating masks and hospital gowns.
“We hope this effort can play a part in coming together as a community to help us through this challenging situation,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
The company has suspended productions of jerseys and are using the polyester mesh fabric to make Level 1 masks, which are generally used for low-risk, nonsurgical procedures and are for single-use only. The masks will be donated to hospitals in Pennsylvania and other nearby states.
"Woke up in the middle of the night last week with idea of converting our @Fanatics factory in PA that makes official @MLB jerseys into a facility that makes much needed masks and gowns and then donating them to help fight this horrendous virus," Michael Rubin, Fanatics executive chairman wrote on Twitter Thursday.
Shortages of face masks and gowns have become a major concern for healthcare professionals dealing with the pandemic on the front lines. The Department of Health and Human Services says up to 3.5 billion face masks will be needed in the U.S. for healthcare professionals to fight the virus.
“I’m proud,” said Manfred, “that Major League Baseball can partner with Fanatics to help support the brave healthcare workers and emergency personnel who are on the front lines of helping patients with COVID-19. They are truly heroes.”
The 360,000-square foot facility located in Easton, Pennsylvania, began producing masks and gowns on Tuesday. Rubin says he hopes to produce up to 15,000 masks and gowns every day. Producing the masks and gowns would cost Fanatics about $3 million and the company hopes to produce at least 1 million over the course of several months.
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.